Dark amber to brown in color, old ales are medium- to full-bodied with a malty sweetness. Hop aroma should be minimal and flavor can vary from none to medium in character intensity. Fruity-ester flavors and aromas can contribute to the character of this ale. Bitterness should be minimal but evident and balanced with malt and/or caramel like sweetness. Alcohol types can be varied and complex.
A distinctive quality of these ales is that they undergo an aging process (often for years) on their yeast either in bulk storage or through conditioning in the bottle, which contributes to a rich, often sweet and complex estery character. Some oxidation and diacetyl character may be evident and acceptable. Oak aged character is acceptable. Chill haze is acceptable at low temperatures.
(This style may often be split into two categories, strong and very strong.)